After rejection of 4-day school week, St. Joseph School Board ponders next step

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St. Joseph School Board President LaTonya Williams and Vice President Kenneth Reeder/Photo by Brent Martin

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

What is next for the St. Joseph School Board now
that it has rejected a proposed four-day school week?

School Board President LaTonya Williams voted for
the proposal and says there has already been fallout from its defeat.

“It has been two days, a day-and-a-half, after the
board meeting and the resignations are already coming in, a day after the board
meeting,” Williams tells host Barry Birr on a recent KFEQ Hotline. “I think
that means something.”

Voting against was Vice President Kenneth Reeder,
who says instead of a shortened school week, the district should work toward
raising teacher pay.

“A levy, a true levy, just for teacher’s salary
raises, I’m all in for that,” Reeder tells Birr.

Both Reeder and Williams are up for re-election
next month.

Three St. Joseph School Board members voted in
favor of the four-day school week with four voting against.

Though Reeder voted against the proposal, he sees
value in the debate.

“The best thing that has happened, I think, on
this is that it’s raised the conversation of the importance of our school
district to this town and also to the importance of getting us from 48 out of
50 states up somewhere higher in our teacher compensation,” according to
Reeder.

A report issued by the Missouri NEA last year ranked
Missouri 47th among the states in average teacher pay at $52,481, up
slightly from the year before. Missouri ranks 50th for beginning
teacher pay at slightly more than $34,000 annually.

Williams says there has been fallout since the
board took its vote.

“Now our teachers feel undervalued and under
supported,” according to Williams. “People are like, well, just pay the teachers
more money, pay the teachers more money. I would love to, but where’s that
money going to come from?”

St. Joseph School Superintendent Gabe Edgar
brought the proposal before the board, saying it would provide a tool to better
recruit and retain teachers. Approximately 170 of the 500-plus school districts
in Missouri have gone to a four-day school district, mostly rural districts. An
exception is the Independence School District which discussed its experience
with a four-day school week during a work session with the St. Joseph School
Board prior to its vote last Monday.

You can follow Brent on X @GBrentKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.